Projects

Draw a line

Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery,Tokyo, Jan 2000

Duration: 02.08.2000 - 09.10.2000
Location: Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery,Tokyo
Participants: people who played the game at the exhibition
Visitors: people who visited the exhibition
Number of Events: n.a.
Additional Presentations: Dutch Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (17.06.2003 - 24.09.2003); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (03.2004 - 05.2004); Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen (02.06.2006 - 17.09.2006)

Van Heeswijk was invited by the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery to participate in the exhibition 'Territory: Contemporary Art from the Netherlands', held from 2 August to 9 October 2000. Her contribution was the project Draw a Line (2000), based on an old Dutch territorial game. In collaboration with Rolf Engelen, she filled an area in the gallery 25 metres square with soil, a reference to the Dutch tradition of land reclamation. Besides forming the setting for a game, this square was also a flat, almost two-dimensional sculpture bearing a strong resemblance to the work of such Dutch Constructivists as Mondriaan and others.

The installation was a reworking of the traditional Dutch game of 'landjepik' ('land grab'), which centres on gaining and losing territory, land and space. A companion booklet lays out the rules of the game, which can be played in three variants: 'Wanna Play', Wanna Fight' and 'Wanna Act'. In the third variant, the objective is to create space for the opponent instead of taking space from him - an impossible task in a game of conquest. The game brings together competition and competence, and participants are invited to lay bare their deepest motives at the most basic level. The rules are simple: each player throws a knife into the ground, and the point where the knife lands forms the outer boundary of that player's new 'territory'. By altering one of the basic rules - how players take turns - the game never ends. This simple act draws the viewer's attention to the endless struggle over 'territory'.

For the exhibition 'We Are the World' in the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the work was presented as part of the presentation 'The Future of the Sidelines'. Dutch soil from Gorinchem was shipped to Venice, so that people would play on Dutch territory. Siebe Thissen wrote, 'In this context the game poses a pressing question: how, as culture makers accustomed to preserves without competition, do we deal with the 'battle' and what role do we attribute to it in intercultural society? The game's call for knives makes their choice politically relevant as well. To give the 'battle' the benefit of the doubt is also to consider the dark side of the game: war, territorialism, machismo, pride. What does the noble notion of cultural competition embrace in the reprehensible survival of the fittest? With this work Van Heeswijk and Engelen are not giving the answers, but at least the debate is on.'


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